February 24, 2018, 7:34 pm
The Lakers (24-34) head to Sacramento on Saturday to take on the Kings (18-40).
Sacramento is tied for the fewest wins in the league, but is coming off a tightly contested outing against the Oklahoma City Thunder, eventually falling 110-107 on a buzzer-beating 3-pointer by Russell Westbrook.
The rest of their season will be focused on developing their young players such as Buddy Hield, Willie Cauley-Stein, De’Aaron Fox and Bogdan Bogdonovic, while also fostering a competitive edge and sound basketball culture.
That being said, in their last game they were led by wily veteran Zach Randolph, who poured in 29 points and 12 rebounds on 12-of-23 shooting from the field and 4-of-7 from downtown. The Lakers will need to pay close attention to him as he was vital to the Kings’ home victory over the Lakers earlier in the season.
The Lakers are coming off a well-played game in which they crushed the Dallas Mavericks 124-102. Los Angeles, one of the best interior scoring teams in the league, outscored the Mavericks 62-26 in the paint. They had strong performances all around but were led by Julius Randle, who collected his fifth career triple-double with 18 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists.
Los Angeles was bolstered by the return of No. 2 overall pick Lonzo Ball, who contributed nine points, seven rebounds and six assists in only 17 minutes. He is not expected to play on Saturday as part of a planned day of rest as he recovers from a sprained MCL that had sidelined him since January 13. His absence means that fans will not have the opportunity to watch him duel with Fox, the No. 5 overall pick in this year’s draft.
However, the game is not without dramatic flair as Isaiah Thomas returns to Sacramento, the team that drafted him with the last overall pick in the 2011 draft. The Lakers recently acquired Thomas from the Cleveland Cavaliers in a trade deadline deal. He is still rounding in to shape as he recovers from a hip injury suffered during last year’s playoffs, when he was still a member of the Boston Celtics. He is coming off of his best game as a Laker (also his first game in front of the home crowd and first victory) in which he scored 17 points to go with four assists, two rebounds and two steals. Thomas is improving in each game as he becomes more acclimated schematically to his new team. He has shown particularly strong chemistry with young Laker big man Ivica Zubac — their growing connection, especially in the pick and roll, is something to keep an eye on in this contest.
– The Lakers score 107.6 points per game (10th) compared to the Kings, who are last in the league, scoring only 98.8 points per game.
– Los Angeles also has a large rebounding advantage on the season with 46.5 rebounds per game (2nd) vs. 40.4 rebounds per game (29th) for Sacramento. The Lakers are coming off a game in which they were particularly dominant on the glass, outrebounding the Mavericks 69-37.
-The two teams have very different strengths on offense. The Lakers excel at scoring in the paint, leading the league with 53.7 points in the paint per game while the Kings average 43.5 points per game in the paint (17th). The Kings forte lies in their 3-point shooting where they knock down 38.3 percent of their attempts vs. the Lakers who convert 33.4 percent (29th) from downtown.
– These teams are extremely different in their style of play — the Lakers lead the league in pace with 103.07 possessions per 48 minutes while the Kings are near the bottom in that metric with 97.30 possessions per 48 minutes (26th).
-Both teams struggle to convert their attempts from the free throw line with the Lakers shooting an abysmal 69.7 percent (30th) and Sacramento making 72.4 percent (28th) of their free throws.
Projected Starting Lineups
Brandon Ingram (PG)
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (SG)
Josh Hart (SF)
Julius Randle (PF)
Brook Lopez (C)
De’Aaron Fox (PG)
Bogdan Bogdanovic (SG)
Justin Jackson (SF)
Zach Randolph (PF)
Willie Cauley-Stein (C)
Lonzo Ball (rest/MCL sprain) – OUT
Channing Frye (appendectomy) – OUT
Iman Shumpert (foot) – OUT
Kosta Koufos (illness) – QUESTIONABLE
Skal Labissiere (shoulder) – PROBABLE
De’Aaron Fox (pink eye) – PROBABLE
Time: 7:00 PM PST, 10:00 PM EST
Television: NBCSCA, SPECSN/SPECD
Radio: KHTK SPORTS 1140 AM, 710 AM ESPN, 1330 AM ESPN DEPORTES